Produced in 2001 by the TNT television network, like many adaptations The Mists of Avalon seeks to recreate its source material, Marian Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon series as faithfully as possible.
Choosing for a relatively straightforward adaptive process, the viewer will notice many moments from the books presented in an almost perfectly chronological order. Events, of course, are condensed and others cut away, but seeing as how the source material is close to a thousand pages, this is understandable. Other events from the books are dipped out of their natural order for the TV film to have a more melodramatic narrative—whether it concerns sex or war.
Such decisions should be expected and old news to everyone. I am unmoved by such an unoriginal adaptation but if the goal is to reproduce the text as closely as possible, then a blunt scene-for-scene representation is as good as possible. A more creative representation of the books would perhaps be better suited to a big budget Hollywood production, not a three-hour made for TV film.
As for the actual film, it is of average quality. Hammy, over-wrought acting is the predominant feature. Honestly, most everything about it is of middling quality; this is not to say that is poorly made, just nothing fantastic. Some scenes are ably shot, however, with aesthetic, music, and cinematography coming together extremely well. Mostly, though, it is just a solid if unremarkable take on a bulky book.
To conclude, if you are a fan of Bradley’s epic, then televisual adaptations are in short supply. It is easy to imagine a project like this had turned out far worse than it did; budget aside, this is a fine way to kill a few hours, especially If you just got done reading the book. It will not blow your mind but neither will it kill your love for the literature it is based. In short, another aggressively average Arthurian text.